The solution to this quandary about transparency in the Obama White House is pretty easy to resolve…
Whether it’s responding to Congress, media questions, or FOIA requests, this administration is no better than its predecessor. The big difference: Obama is a Democrat. And because he is a Democrat, he’s gotten a pass from many of the civil liberty and good-government groups who spent years watching President Bush’s every move like a hawk.
No one knows this better than John Kiriakou, the CIA agent who reported to federal prison two weeks ago for blowing the whistle on the agency’s use of torture[*]. During an interview at an Arlington, Va., coffee shop, Kiriakou said the time has come for Washington watchdog groups—organizations like Public Citizen, Project on Government Oversight, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, and others—to admit that President Obama hasn’t come close to making good on his promise to make government more transparent and accountable.
…once you understand that the individuals and groups involved are not particularly dedicated to transparency as much as they are dedicated to attacking Republicans using transparency as a club. At best groups like CREW prefer access to accountability – well, at least when a Democrat’s in office. Then they can get the stuff that the rest of the Beltway craves – access, visibility at court, the warm feeling of public recognition that they are worth cultivating – without having to do any of the messy things like demand transparency and hold feet to fires. It’s so awkward to do it to one’s friends, after all. Best to save it for when those people are in office.
Really, I wouldn’t mind so much, if groups like CREW would just stop pretending that they were brave.
Moe Lane (crosspost)
*In point of fact, Kiriakou was convicted of leaking “the name of a covert operative to a journalist, who disclosed it to an investigator working for the lawyer of a Guantanamo detainee;” also, this was in regard to revelations about waterboarding, not torture. And if you take umbrage at that distinction… yeah, how is lumping the two together like that working out for you? – Because from where I’m sitting it looks like conflating the two has made the latter somewhat more acceptable to the American electorate, instead of making the former less so. Brilliant move there, geniuses. Absolutely brilliant.